North Korea launches two missiles into the sea as its allies Hold drills. On Tuesday morning at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea, a TV screen displayed an image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program. North Korea test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters in their second show of force this week – just one day after commencing U.S.-South Korean military drills which the North views as an invasion rehearsal.
On Tuesday, North Korea test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles in an act of defiance against the United States and South Korea’s joint military drills which Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed in a statement that two missiles launched from Jangyon, south of Seoul, crossed North Korea before landing in the sea off its east coast. Both missiles traveled approximately 620 kilometers (385 miles).
North Korea fires at least two ballistic missiles toward Sea of Japan
Reports indicate the missiles were launched from South Korea, home to approximately 28,000 U.S. troops. South Korea’s military has labeled these launches a “grave provocation” that threatens stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Tuesday’s launches don’t pose an immediate danger to its allies, but noted the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s illicit weapons programs and reiterated its unshakeable security commitments to South Korea and Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed reporters that authorities were still gathering details regarding North Korean launches and there had been no immediate reports of damage in Japanese waters.
Pyongyang may step up its weapons tests over the coming days in a show of force against US military drills that begin March 23. Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops to be ready to repel what he called “frantic war preparation moves” made by their rivals.
Worries about North Korea’s nuclear program have intensified after it test-fired more than 70 missiles in 2022, many of them nuclear capable weapons, and openly threatened to use them in potential conflicts with the United States and South Korea.
North Korea appears to be using the impending talks with Washington and the growing U.S.-South Korean drills as an opportunity to build up its weapons arsenal in order to gain leverage in future dealings with the United States.
North Korean threats and China’s growing assertiveness have caused the U.S. to seek ways to solidify its alliances with South Korea and Japan. However, some analysts speculate that increased Washington-Seoul-Tokyo cooperation could encourage Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow to deepen their own trilateral ties.
China and Russia, involved in separate disputes with the U.S., have consistently blocked efforts by Washington and its allies to tighten United Nations sanctions on North Korea.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged on Monday that North Korea has been honing its submarine-launch capabilities since its first test in 2016, and the United States was closely studying Sunday’s launches to assess their capability.
“But we will not let any steps North Korea takes deter us or prevent us from taking the measures we believe necessary to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Sullivan declared.
U.S.-South Korean joint exercises Proceed as Scheduled That TimeNorth Korea Launches 2 missiles
On Monday, the U.S.-South Korean joint exercises began in Seoul with computer simulations of North Korean aggression and other security scenarios as well as field exercises. According to South Korean defense officials, these drills will return to the same scale of last year’s largest springtime exercises between both nations, which took place last April. Both countries have been increasing their drills as North Korean nuclear threats have grown more serious.
Jeon Ha Gyu, spokesperson of South Korea’s Defense Ministry, declared Tuesday that U.S.-South Korea drills will proceed as scheduled regardless of any disruptions by North Korea including missile launches. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated Monday the United States has no hostile intent toward North Korea and that its allies’ exercises are “purely defensive in nature.”
On a second day of telephone talks to discuss North Korean launches, South Korean and U.S. nuclear envoys declared Tuesday that any actions by North Korea would have “clear repercussions,” without specifying what those might be. They added that their allies remain “firmly committed” to responding to any sort of provocation from Pyongyang, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.
Later this week, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is set to visit Tokyo for a summit with Kishida where the North Korean threat is expected to be an important topic. This shared urgency over security has brought Seoul and Tokyo closer together after years of disputes sparked by Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula before World War II ended.